Online platforms have gained prominence – as a way of facilitating market interaction, and in terms of competition and other policy concerns. Here I consider the underlying reason for the development of online platforms, the linkage to connectivity and the ongoing policy debate.
But first, what is meant by platforms? I adopt an economic perspective and focus on multisided markets where participants interact directly, facilitated and governed by the platform operator. A medieval marketplace may have operated as a platform, but my focus is online platforms.
Online platforms include app stores, social networks such as Strava and peer-to-peer transport platforms such as Bolt. Others, such as Netflix, which provide a service to consumers but do not facilitate third-party transactions, are not multisided online platforms.